Indirex: Data expert finds silver lining in clouds for real estate funds

Cloud storage and data room provider gives managers easy access to data, writes Alex Catalano

Public real estate vehicles are easy to access, with standardised documents, regulatory filings and electronic information exchanges. Not so private real estate funds, where managers hold and distribute information about funds in a myriad of different ways.

Indirex wants to change all that. Set up by Colin Barber and Gary McNamara two years ago, it aims to be the online community for unlisted real estate funds: the Facebook of the industry, as it were.

Barber, originally a fund manager with CBRE, founded trading platform Propex for UK direct property in 2000, selling it to CoStar in 2008. McNamara was previously DTZ Corporate Finance’s head of derivatives.

Indirex’s semi-public side is a global database of 1,800 unlisted funds, a primary capital-raising monitor and daily news service, with information collected from public sources. “Increasingly, we approach funds directly,” says Barber. Membership and these services are free for professional investors, fund managers and their advisers.

But Indirex’s bread and butter is offering fund managers cloud-based storage for fund documentation: quarterly reports, valuation updates, notices of meetings and essential information for investors. Barber notes: “Few managers have this online; they all have different systems, with different passwords.”

Managers can set up document suites with private areas for unit holders and less confidential material for invited visitors, such as prospective investors. “The manager is responsible for administering who is let in, down to individual documents,” says Barber. “Investors can go to Indirex to find updates and key documents for funds in one place.”

Clearly, security is paramount. To provide the data rooms and document management, Indirex uses IT specialist HighQ, which also supplies software and services to law firms such as Clifford Chance and Linklaters.

Keeping LLRP investors well informed

Lend Lease Retail Partnership, which owns  stakes in the Bluewater and Touchwood shopping centres, has appointed Indirex to host a document room, initially to manage data for investors considering buying LLRP units in secondary markets, but in the long run it hopes to report to all LLRP investors.

“Bluewater is readily traded; all documentation is kept in Indirex and potential investors can be allowed in to do their due diligence,” says Barber.

CBRE’s Global Multimanager Team, which invests in 100 different unlisted vehicles, is also working with Indirex to set up a single priority channel that fund managers could use to post documentation to the team.

Document rooms are handy for one-off deals, particularly when professional teams are working in different continents. “These can be set up in hours,” notes Barber. Oxford Properties used one of these for a major deal.

Indirex also built a private secondary trading platform to display unlisted fund pricing for clients of JLL Corporate Finance Private Funds Advisory. This is not a public trading platform, like CBRE’s PropertyMatch, where CBRE acts as broker and is building a history of the platform’s previous trades.

Most recently, Indirex was appointed to build and run an online platform to collect and deliver the data used to compile IPD’s pooled property fund indices. Currently fund managers fill in spreadsheets and email them to IPD; having a secure online platform for managers to update figures will simplify and speed up the process. The data will then be checked and sent to IPD for analysis.

Cameron McVean, IPD’s head of fund services, will be on secondment at Indirex for four months while the project is bedded in. “We will pioneer it for UK pooled funds but extend it to all the European pooled indices,” says Barber.